CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nine months after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer fatally shot Keith Scott, the Charlotte Citizens Review Board sided with Scott's family in their appeal of CMPD's findings that his shooting was justified.
During a closed session Tuesday evening, the board voted 8-2 in favor of Scott's family, saying there was "substantial evidence of error" in CMPD's decision. Julian Wright, attorney for the Citizens Review Board, said the board's only power is to make a recommendation.
"What the Citizens Review Board is empowered to do is write a recommendation to the chief and say essentially to the chief, 'We believe your determination that this shooting was justified is not correct,'" Wright said.
In April, CMPD"s review board determined that Officer Brentley Vinson followed protocol and should not face charges for the shooting, citing that Scott was in possession of a firearm and did not follow officers' orders. Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said Vinson feared that Scott would shoot and that Vinson's actions were consistent with North Carolina law.
Citizens Review Board wants more information before they fully decide/make a recommendation that this shooting wasn't justified. @wcnc— Savannah Levins (@LevinsReports) June 28, 2017
With the decision behind them, the board will now turn its attention to a fact-finding hearing on August 8. At that time, the board will hear more evidence from CMPD, as well as the Scott family, before making its final ruling.
"It will look a lot like a trial," said Wright, describing the hearing scheduled for August.
After the ruling, the City of Charlotte released the following statement:
The work of the Citizens Review Board is crucial in ensuring transparency, fairness and accountability. The City of Charlotte respects today’s decision by the Citizens Review Board and thanks the members of the board for their service.
Since it's founding in 1997, the CRB has never ruled against an officer in favor of a citizen's complaint. The 11-member panel is set to undergo numerous changes. The Charlotte City Council announced that it plans to increase diversity among its members, will ban current and past CMPD family members from serving, and each member of the board will have to complete at least eight hours of training.
Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP, believes it is vital for the training to be completed.
"It is so important that everyone on the CRB has an opportunity to be trained in implicit bias," Mack said. "We all have biases, and we have to look at that and understand that the police are simply citizens that took a responsibility to safeguard the people of Charlotte."